Knight Owl Review: White Box Gothic
This nice little OSR supplement from James Spahn (http://halflingsluck.blogspot.com) provides easy to use rules for playing gothic adventures with your favorite retro-clone (it’s written for Swords and Wizardry White Box, but is easily adaptable to any OSR system). At 48 pages, this book is just the right size for what it is and offers several really neat elements if you’re running a gothic horror type of game.
To start with, there are six new character classes that represent some typical gothic archetypes. They won’t replace the original classes, but can serve as a nifty supplement to the adventuring party. I particularly like the Spiritualist–a sort of medium who can communicate with the other side and have a really neat mechanic for calling upon ghosts for help in dire situations–and the Monster Hunter–a modified Ranger for the gothic setting who specializes in killing a single type of horror.
Spahn also presents some great revisions to a few of the gothic mechanics from one of my all-time favorite AD&D books–the classic Ravenloft Realm of terror boxed set from 2nd Edition–but removes the weird TSR-ness and keeps it much more in the realm of Brahm Stoker, which I like a lot. Also, the rules for corruption (powers check), curses, and dread(fear/horror) are short and sweet and much easier to actually track than the original Ravenloft equivalents.
Finally, we have a short section with a few spells and magic items for gothic settings, as well a handful of monsters. I like some of the more gruesome spells that allow for characters to mimic the dead and really love the Shadow Form spell that allows the Magic User to become a literal shadow. Some of the monsters remind me of creatures from the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium, which is fine by me, and are great for adding a touch of horror to your game.
The book is well laid-out and easy to use, the typefaces are inoffensive (which in the DIY OSR world is a major accomplishment in itself ;P), and the artwork is of good quality, if a little sparse. In fact, my only complaint about White Box Gothic is that I wish it had more illustrations to go with the great content.
It is definitely worth the $7.99 price tag at lulu.com and, considering that they are currently offering free shipping (use code SHIPIT2018 through April 9), you should definitely check it out!